August 30, 2001: East Timor holds first free election
Hundreds of thousands of East Timorese turned out in festive mood for their first free election, two years to the day after their vote to split from Indonesia unleashed a militia orgy of death and destruction. Turnout was an estimated 93 per cent based on reports from 145 of the 248 polling centres, said the United Nations chief electoral officer, Carlos Valenzuela. “People experienced the polling like a holiday. Election day was a very peaceful day.” The poll is a milestone on the road to nationhood for the impoverished territory, colonised for four centuries by Portugal and from 1975 by Indonesia. Almost 99 per cent of electors voted in the 1999 referendum, and close to 80 per cent chose to end 24 years of brutal Indonesian rule. Former independence guerrilla fighter Xanana Gusmao voted in his birthplace, the parched coastal town of Manatuto east of Dili. The likely future president stood in queue to vote in a school still being rebuilt, clutching his 11-month-old son.
Other Important Events
1526 – Sulaiman I, Sultan of Turkey, defeats Hungarian army at battle of Mohacs, in which Louis II of Hungary is killed.
1881 – Clement Ader of Germany patents the first stereo system.
1916 – Turkey declares war on Russia.
1918 – Czechoslovakia forms an independent republic.
1928 – Independence of India League is formed in India.
1941 – The last railroad link between Leningrad and the rest of the Soviet Union is severed by German forces.
1960 – East Germany imposes partial blockade of West Berlin.
1963 – A hotline is established between the Soviet Union and the United States.
1967 – Thurgood Marshall becomes the first black American appointed to the US Supreme Court.
1981 – Iranian President Mohammad Ali Rajai and Prime Minister Hojatoleslam Mohammad Javad Bahonar die in an explosion that rocked downtown Tehran.
1984 – US space shuttle Discovery takes off on its first voyage.
1991 – Soviet republic of Azerbaijan declares independence.
1993 – Hassan II mosque, the second-largest in the world, opens in Casablanca.
1994 – Russia officially ends a half-century of military presence in former East Germany and the Baltics.
1996 – British boxer Frank Bruno announces his retirement.
2005 – Five senior officials are arrested over the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.
2006 – Egyptian novelist Najeeb Mahfouz, the first Arab writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize, dies at the age of 94.
2007 – Taliban militants release the final seven of the original 23 South Korean captives they had been holding, bringing an end to a six-week hostage crisis.
2009 – The UAE Cabinet bans printing on non-biodegradable plastics bags, as a move to lessen waste.
2010 – A gunman opens fire in a busy Bratislava street, Germany, leaving seven people dead and wounding 14 others.
2013 – A US drone kills senior Al Qaida leader Qaid Ahmad Nasser Al Dhahab in Yemen.
2014 – Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane flees in fear of his life after soldiers seize power in a coup.